DIR: Adam Wingard • WRI: Simon Barrett • PRO: Simon Barrett, Keith Calder, Kim Sherman, Jessica Wu • DOP: Andrew Palermo • ED: Adam Wingard • CAST: Sharni Vinson, Nicholas Tucci, Wendy Glenn, A. J. Bowen, Joe Swanberg
Just as the respectable Oscar bait churned out by Harvey Weinstein’s Miramax was financed by the less glamorous chillers and slashers of Bob Weinstein’s Dimension Films, so too the slight pleasures of mumblecore cinema associated with the Duplass brothers, Lena Dunham and Great Gerwig find their ugly kid brother in a series of outré horror films that look back to the schlockier video rentals that must have punctuated these filmmakers’ formative artsier viewings.
There is no obvious outward comradeship between these oddly instersecting streams of films save the appearance of some of the same names and faces behind and in front of the camera: Gerwig and Dunham (the latter in unrecognisable voiceover only) featured in Ti West’s wonderful 1980s horror throwback, The House of the Devil, while West appears onscreen in You’re Next as the boyfriend of a family member attending a weekend anniversary party for her wealthy parents in a grand house in a remote part of New England.
Some of the same needling, selfishness and egotism that take up all the limited energies of the mumblecore films here percolate more usefully in the background as comedy before the houseguests come under attack from silent assailants dressed in black and wearing eerily innocent masks of animal faces.
The filmmakers do a good job of ensuring we have little sympathy for the family before the unsparing violence is unleashed, meaning that the inevitable bloody ends they meet are greeted by viewers with a laugh as well as a flinch.
Director Adam Wingard cleverly exploits our familiarity with horror tropes, such as the “final girl” and people splitting up unnecessarily, without lapsing into self-regarding irony. The end result feels like a welcome subversion of the whole phenomenon of mumblecore, with that genre’s bourgeois, angsty, overly indulged protagonists falling under the axe of the unpretentious satisfactions of the horror genre. Bloody good fun.
Rated 18 (see IFCO website for details)
You’re Next is released on 28th August 2013